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City: Aragon 'Progressing' in Fixing Problems, Riviera Has 'Much More Work'

By  Adeshina Emmanuel and Darryl Holliday | May 23, 2013 3:13pm 

 The Riviera Theatre.
The Riviera Theatre.
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DNAinfo/Adeshina Emmanuel

DALEY CENTER — Two historic venues facing thousands of dollars in fines appear to be on different paths toward resolving their problems with the city, officials said.

The owners of the Aragon Ballroom, 4746 N. Racine Ave., and the Riviera Theatre, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave., both have been cited for multiple building code violations by city inspectors, but the Aragon is closer to resolving its issues, law department spokesman Roderick Drew said Thursday.

"Aragon is progressing," Drew said in an email. "Riviera has much more work to do."

Drew's comments came after lawyers and representatives from both concert venues appeared in court Wednesday at separate hearings to address exterior code violations that fail to comply "with the minimum standards of health and safety set forth in the building code," according to separate complaints filed in Cook County Circuit Court earlier this year.

At the hearing for the Aragon, owners Luis Rossi and Ivan and Mercedes Fernandez were ordered to repair their crumbling terra cotta in the next seven days to avoid fines that were piling up. As of Thursday, 113 days had passed since the city noted violations at the Aragon, which is being fined $4,000 for every day the violations remain.

The venue will need to schedule an inspection with the city buildings department, Drew said.

Judith Frydland, deputy corporation counsel for the city of Chicago, said she believed the city and the theater "have come to an agreement," regarding the venue's building issues, and added that the city would not have to "baby-sit" them through the repair process.

The Riviera's owners allegedly failed to keep the building's exterior walls "free from holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the walls."

Drew said the Riviera's owners needed to obtain an "engineering report on the exterior areas covered by tarp and plywood" and to obtain a permit to make the necessary repairs.

Drew said the Riviera, which is owned by Jam Productions founders Jerry Mickelson and Arny Granat, still needed to schedule inspections with the city buildings department and the Fire Department.

A city complaint seeks a $1,000 fine for each day the Riviera's violations have persisted. Thursday marked 275 days since the violations were noted, according to the complaint.

Drew said that ultimately, how much money the Aragon and Riviera would owe "depends on how much progress they continue to make in addressing the problems."

The Aragon's next court date is Aug. 14, and the Riviera is scheduled to be back in court Sept. 11.

Officials with the venues could not be reached for comment.

Mickelson also owns the Uptown Theatre, a now-defunct venue whose restoration has been touted as essential to the city's plans for a bolstered Uptown entertainment district.